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HINDMAN: Racing Back From the ‘Rona

Acura’s Trent Hindman files his latest Sportscar365 column ahead of SRO America’s return to racing this weekend…

Photo: John Dagys

This is, unanimously speaking, the single longest period of time I think any of us drivers have been “out of the seat” since, well, before we even stepped into the seat in the first place.

Though losing out on the physical act of driving is the least concerning bit.. we’ve all taken it upon ourselves to find new ways of staying sharp while foregoing the opportunity to go door-to-door with each other.

For the most part, muscle memory will take over as soon as we click off the speed limiter at the end of pit lane and let it rip, so to say.

The more disappointing fact about a long form break in the action such as what COVID-19 has provided is the lack of physical interaction with our teams, co-drivers, and families away from home at the race track.

I find that Zoom calls, FaceTimes, and iMessages lose their shine after only a short period of time.

Photo: Regis Lefebure/SRO

I also don’t want to find myself in a spot where I cannot give my brothers and sisters at the racetrack a firm handshake and/or hug… but that post COVID-19 norm is yet to see itself out.

I suppose the answers to my aforementioned questions are, A. not really relevant right now in the grand scheme of things and, B. will be answered in two weeks time once the GT World Challenge America season gets back underway at Virginia International Raceway. No fans, strict social distancing measures, and enough hand sanitizer to make your hands bleed will be in effect. That’s fine, at least we’re going racing again.

On the bright side, quarantine has forced more structure and daily productivity than I’ve ever previously had – finishing a home renovation project, new forms of training, getting back in a kart for the first time in ten years, PPP loan headaches… this provided it all.

The short glimpse into the world outside of motor racing was sobering to say the least, but for my sake, the hard reset was much needed.

Photo: Chris Green/Racers Edge

It is of my belief that the differentiating factor upon our return to racing will be who communicated more effectively between each other and their teams during this time off.

The lack of human interaction creates awkward lapses in conversation and, at least in my experience, leads to misinterpretation.

Then again, we drivers don’t know jack, but I’ll save that rant for another day.

The culture of openness and communication created, but not forced, by Honda and their affiliate teams is one unparalleled by anybody else in the industry.

I think that will give the Racers Edge Motorsports team a key advantage in our return to racing next week.

Photo: Chris Green/Racers Edge

If anything, the introduction of the Honda Performance Development GT3 Academy and their use of a Racers Edge-run NSX GT3 helps further the pre-VIR preparation for both Shelby and me.

The folks at HPD created this initiative to give four up-and-comers the opportunity to get eight days worth of training and testing with the NSX GT3 for potential full-time race programs come next year.

After a few minor scheduling setbacks for obvious reasons, the almighty problem solvers at HPD conducted the first two-day long test of the year for these drivers at Road Atlanta last week.

I’m definitely jealous they got to get back behind the wheel of the NSX GT3 before me, but I think their time and input with the car last week will help the REM team as a whole come VIR.

Unlike the last trip Shelby and I took, we will have no cross-country excursion, no NSX encounters with law enforcement, no 16-hour drives with only the obligatory In-N-Out stop for this week’s pre race rituals – that’ll be remiss during the taper into next week.

Probably not a bad thing to be honest, but I’m glad the momentum carried into this four-month break has seemingly been enough to see us through to the other side with the same level of focus and determination.

Let’s go racing.

Trent Hindman (@TrentHindman) is the 2019 IMSA GT Daytona class champion, driving for Racers Edge Motorsports in GT World Challenge America powered by AWS, Meyer Shank Racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Archangel Motorsports in Michelin Pilot Challenge.

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